The first successful consumer jet ski was a stand-up model by Kawasaki actually called the Jet Ski. (This is where we get the generic term “jet ski” for all personal watercraft.)
Today, sit-down models of personal watercraft (PWC), which carry more people and have more room to relax, outsell stand-ups by a wide margin.
But there are still plenty of people for whom a stand-up model is the only way to ride.
If you’re thinking about buying a personal watercraft, and stand-ups are on your radar, you’ve got a few good options.
It’s really just a matter of how much speed you want and what you want to do on the craft.
Some stand-ups go faster. Some are better for tricks.
All are a blast to ride.
Best Stand-Up Jet Ski
The Yamaha SuperJet.
But that top pick isn’t firm.
When it comes to stand-up PWC, you have fewer options than sit-down models.
Only two of the three major PWC companies, Kawasaki and Yamaha, produce stand-up models (Sea-Doo sticks to sit-downs), and each company only produces a single stand-up craft.
Lesser-known PWC company, Krash Industries, produces four models of stand-up PWC expressly designed for competition freestyle riding (and only legally permitted for competition-riding in the U.S.)
All of these models of PWC have their advantages.
- Kawasaki’s Jet Ski SX-R sports the most powerful engine with 160 horsepower and rapid acceleration. It also has finely-tuned handling and a deep, narrow hull great for sharp turns and rough waters. But, at 550 pounds, it’s heavy for a stand-up. It’s built for speed and racing, not trick riding.
- Yamaha’s SuperJet comes in considerably lighter at 410 pounds, and with a starting price $500 cheaper than the Jet Ski SX-R. The lighter weight makes it much easier to handle for trick riding, but not as solid in currents. It’s the cheapest of the bunch, and the most geared toward consumers.
- Krash Industries makes the lightest stand-ups by far. Their heaviest model, The Reaper, comes in 60 pounds lighter than the SuperJet, and their slimmest model, The FR Pro, weighs an insane (and industry-leading) 305 pounds, all fuels included.
Here’s a line-up for easy comparison:
*Curb weight is the weight of the watercraft with all necessary liquids included, such as gas.
**Krash PWC are built with special drivetrains that allow for three different levels of output: 70 horsepower, 100 horsepower, and 130 horsepower.
Side by side, you can see how the Yamaha SuperJet has the best weight vs power vs price, making it ideal for most riders.
But not all riders.
Fastest Stand-Up Jet Ski – Best Stand-Up Jet Ski for Racing
The Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R.
As far as going fast, the Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R is still king when it comes to top speeds and acceleration. Y
es, it’s heavy, but its powerful engine overcomes its excessive bulk. For now.
We say “for now,” because over the past several years, Yamaha has been making real gains on Kawasaki in the speed department.
With the SuperJet’s top speed sitting only 5-7 mph behind the Jet Ski SX-R’s and the SuperJet’s weight advantage of about 150 pounds, it may not be long before the SX-R is equalled or bested.
For now, though, under normal closed-course conditions with an experienced driver, the Jet Ski SX-R is the fastest stand-up racer.
Best Stand-Up Jet Ski for Freestyle and Tricks
Krash Industries PWC.
Krash Industries was founded on the mission of making the best freestyle PWC on the market.
And they succeeded.
When it comes to performing tricks, few things matter more than the weight of your watercraft, and the company’s industry-lightest machines are the most maneuverable you can buy.
Krash stand-ups don’t go fast, but that’s not the point.
Their lightweight two-stroke engines and low top speeds make them featherweights in the PWC market, and the best on the market for freestyle, stunt, and trick riding.
Unfortunately, those two-stroke engines the company uses to keep their personal watercraft light don’t meet U.S. emissions standards.
As such, Krash PWC may only be used for competition riding in the U.S.
4 Stroke Stand Up Jet Ski
For a minute, stand-up personal watercraft fell out of favor and off the consumer marketplace.
Original stand-up PWC were made with 2-stroke engines (much like the ones Krash still uses today) that couldn’t pass environmental regulations, causing them to be discontinued in the U.S. in 2011.
In 2017, Kawasaki returned with their four-stroke Jet Ski SX-R, bringing stand-up jet skis back to the fold.
Yamaha shortly followed suit, producing a 4-stroke stand-up that gave options to the consumer market.
Electric Stand-Up Jet Ski
With environmental regulations the way of the future, the next obvious step in personal watercraft innovation is an electric stand-up (or maybe even a sit-down) jet ski.
A few are already in the water.
In 2017, Sacramento-based Free Form Factory released the first electric-powered personal watercraft (in a limited run) using a drivetrain created for electric motorcycles.
The Gratis X1 uses no fuel, makes no noise, produces zero emissions, and uses recycled materials.
A boon to the environment by any standard.
The PWC reaches speeds of up to 46 mph, putting it on par with many Recreation models of PWC.
Where the original Gratis X1 can’t compete with current four-stroke engine watercraft is in time on the water.
A charge only gets you 35 minutes to an hour.
A 30-minute run-time isn’t going to win over many converts.
But, still, it’s in the works and on its way.
Free Form Factory has since teamed up with NIKOLA Powersports. You can get updates on the project here.
Is It Hard To Ride A Stand-Up Jet Ski?
Stand-up jet skis (PWC) require a fair amount of balance, which requires a decent amount of core strength, and they are certainly harder to ride than sit-down models of PWC.
If you have never ridden a stand-up before, you can’t expect to just get on one and go.
You’ll have to get a feel for the kind of balance and movement required to keep the jet ski upright and stay on it.
Think of it much like riding a bicycle or motorcycle for the first time.
The keys are in balance and movement.
Just like you can’t stay upright on a bicycle when it’s not in motion, you can’t stand on a stand-up PWC when it’s not moving.
Instead, you have to start the watercraft moving forward and move from kneeling or lying on the craft to standing, much like you would when catching a wave on a surfboard.
This requires not only core strength, but leg and some upper body strength as well.
Here’s a video for reference:
Stand-up jet skiing has more in common with other standing watersports, like wakeboarding and kitesurfing, than it does with driving sit-down PWC.
Standing Jet Ski: Right For Me?
A standing jet ski is a completely different beast than a sit-down watercraft.
While you could go out and rent a sit-down PWC right now and have no trouble driving it, a stand-up PWC is going to take some effort.
There are several ways in which a stand-up jet ski is completely different from a sit-down model:
- A stand-up jet ski only holds one person (sit-down models are designed for two or more)
- A stand-up jet ski is harder to ride and to balance
- A stand-up jet ski has no room for relaxing (you can stop in the water and it will float, but you’ll have to stay in the water)
- A stand-up jet ski is lighter weight than most sit-down PWC, making them easier to maneuver and transport, but less stable in currents
- A stand-up jet ski is better for freestyle riding and tricks
- Riding a stand-up jet ski is an actual workout
Whether a stand-up PWC is right for you really depends on what you want to do on the craft and how much effort you’re willing to put into learning to ride it.
If you want a personal watercraft for leisurely days out on the water, or a simple learning curve, a sit-down craft is what you need.
But if you want to master the art of jet skiing, to feel one with your machine, to flip, spin, and twirl out on the waves, a stand-up PWC is your ticket to freestyle freedom.